Jesse Thielke, Ty Weber, Brian Keller, Steve Showalter, Zak Showalter, Shon Pratcher and others made spectacular splashes this year on the Germantown, Menomonee Falls, Sussex/Lisbon sports scene this past calendar year.
And to top it all off, the Germantown School District passed an $84 million referendum in November which means in a few years, the "homeless" girls swim team will get to come home and get to make more splashes with a new pool of its own.
Germantown swimmers can come home. The referendum's passage was a major milestone in the district and will have long-lasting ramifications. The referendum that passed makes many improvements in the academic and administrative areas in the district, but the fact that it finally included a pool, something the high school has been without for more than a decade, is huge.
It brings the girls team, which has been practicing at Homestead and the Schroeder Aquatic Center for all this time at great personal sacrifice to those involved, home again. It may also mean that the boys will have an opportunity to leave the co-op it has with Falls and Hamilton and create a separate team of its own.
Further, the growing community will finally be able to sponsor things like swim clubs, swim classes for kids and adult swim programs. In short, it will be a major draw for people looking to move to Germantown. The fact that there's a field house included in all this is just a bonus.
Congratulations residents of Germantown, you did the right thing here.
Jesse Thielke makes the Olympics. The Germantown four-time WIAA state wrestling champ achieved one of his major goals when he qualified for the American greco-roman wrestling team in the 130-pound class for the Rio Olympics.
He was greatly disappointed that he did not medal, but his odyssey included not only winning the American trials, but traveling to last-chance qualifier tournaments in both Mongolia and Turkey to qualify in that weight class for the games. He won four matches in the tournament in Turkey to advance. You could almost hear his scream of satisfaction in his hometown wrestling room.
After the match in an interview with Takedown Wrestling, Thielke was only a little more subdued about his achievement.
"It was an extra journey, an extra little bit to qualify the weight, but I proved to myself and everyone else that I'm a world competitor," he said.
Area coaches were ecstatic for him.
"Jesse was one of the most dominant athletes I have ever seen, in any sport," said Homestead coach Ernie Millard. "Some of the things I saw him do on the wrestling mat were almost beyond imagination. His passion for the most difficult of sports has paid off in the largest way possible, and I could not be happier for he and his family."
Steve Showalter is hired as basketball coach by Falls. Menomonee Falls athletic director Ryan Anderson was selfish for his community, and as a result, Showalter is the new boys basketball coach for the Indians. The last year was convoluted for Showalter, former head of the Germantown boys hoops juggernaut that won three consecutive WIAA state titles from 2012-14. A stint as a college assistant in Missouri didn't work out, and then he came home to Wisconsin looking for a job.
Catholic Memorial scooped him up right away, giving him a a combination position in the school that also made him a full-time employee. The only issue was that Memorial couldn't help him with his pension. He left the Germantown Police Department for Missouri before he was fully vested in the state's public pension system, and he had taken something of a financial hit when he did that. Memorial is not part of that system.
Falls is, and so Anderson opened a conversation with Showalter, offering Showalter a similar combination position (including study hall monitoring, parking lot monitoring and other duties). Showalter initially turned it down, but then came around and accepted it in early June.
The fallout was swift and not pleasant as both Anderson and Showalter took public relations hits for this apparent poaching of another school's coach. Memorial eventually found another coach, and everyone was able to make a degree of peace. Showalter is happy in his new digs and is off to an entertaining 6-1 start, which is a big deal for a Falls program that has never been to state and isn't known for piling up conference titles.
Whether this works out the way Anderson would like remains to be seen, but it's a powerful gamble by a school that sees itself as a rising player on the area athletic scene.
Ty Weber comes back to Falls, gets drafted and leads the baseball team to a second state title. Falls baseball superstar Ty Weber honored his NCAA Division I scholarship to Illinois by going to summer school four days a week. He also drove many miles every weekend to help his Falls' classmates earn a second straight WIAA state summer baseball title. In that two-game tourney at Kapco Park in Mequon on July 22, he went 6 for 8 at the plate, including the two-run single in the state final against Marquette that perfectly complimented the nine-strikeout, four-hit shutout he threw in that 2-0 decision.
Along the way, he turned down a substantial amount of money after being drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in the Major League amateur draft and was named state summer baseball player of the year as well as Now All-Suburban Player of the Year.
In short, it was a storybook kind of tale and one fitting of the son of Falls Athletics Hall of Famer and former baseball coach Dave Weber.
"I never wanted to be looked at as that kind of guy (a superstar)," said Ty Weber. "I just wanted to be known as the guy who worked the hardest and just wanted to be with his teammates."
Others saw him for who he truly was.
"It was just great to be there at the state tournament and watch Ty be as great as we knew he could be," said Millard, who is also the Homestead baseball coach. "If there was a better performance at the state tournament in recent years, I'd like someone to show it to me."
Germantown's Brian Keller gets drafted by the Yankees. The 2012 Now and Summer Baseball Player of the Year for the state runner-up Germantown baseball team finished a strong career at UW-Milwaukee as Horizon League Pitcher of the Year (10-3 record, 3.10 ERA with 103 strikeouts).
That got him noticed and drafted by the New York Yankees in the 39th round of the amateur draft. He seized the opportunity with gusto, signing on almost immediately and making an impressive debut with three different Yankees' minor league affiliates over the summer (13 games, two saves and 0.88 ERA in 41 innings with 51 strikeouts and just seven walks).
"I know this is a one-in-a-million chance," Keller said, "but I'm going to try and take advantage of it."
"I'm just so proud of him," said Germantown coach Jeff Wolf. "He's a once-in-a-lifetime type of kid. I can't think of anyone more deserving of this than Brian."
- Realignment in southeastern Wisconsin officially passed, meaning Germantown will leave the North Shore Conference starting in 2017-18 and join what is effectively the Greater Metro.
- Sussex Hamilton hoops star Taylor Klug completed her career as the school's all-time leading scorer (1,318 points) and now heads on to Minnesota-Mankato.
- Former Germantown basketball star Zak Showalter played a key role in the rebuilding University of Wisconsin men's basketball team making the NCAA Sweet 16 this past spring.
- Hamilton boys basketball coach Andy Cerroni surpassed 300 wins for his career on Nov. 26.
- Germantown track star and school recordholder Shon Pratcher won the WIAA state track title in the long jump in June.
- The Hamilton girls 4x400-meter relay of Morgan Price, Megan Jansett, Chelsea Parker and Bianca Stubler broke a three-year-old state record with a time of 3:52.47 at the WIAA Division 1 state meet in June. Unfortunately for the Chargers, the previous record of 3:52.82 was also broken in the same race by Wausau West (3:50.75) and Arrowhead (3:51.84). In the 400, Stubler finished second in the state for the second consecutive season.
- Pat Cerroni, former head football coach at Menomonee Falls from 1997-99, coached the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh football team to its first-ever appearance in the NCAA Division III national championship game, where the Titans lost by a 10-7 score to undefeated Mary Hardin-Baylor.